Several commenters to the last post asked for some information on the satan.
Although English Bibles continue the practice of capitalizing the word “satan” in passages like Job 1 and 2, those passage do not have a specific individual in mind — that is, “satan” in these passages should *not* be understood as a proper personal name. Here is a video presentation of the material that follows in case you’d rather watch (I also run a search through the OT for what I’m talking about).
The reason for this is straightforward. In biblical Hebrew, the definite article (the word “the) is a single letter (heh). Hebrew prefixes (attaches) the definite article to a noun (or participle to make it a substantive) so that, like all languages that have definite articles, the noun is made specific. Biblical Hebrew does not, however, put the definite article (the word “the”) on proper personal nouns (personal names). In this respect, Hebrew is like English. I don’t call myself “the Mike”. No one (except maybe Donald Trump 🙂 ) puts the word “the” in front of their first name. Hebrew simply does not do this at all. As the well known biblical Hebrew reference grammar by Jouon-Muraoka notes: “No proper noun of person takes the article, not even when it has the form of an adjective or a participle.”1
Without exception, the word “satan” in Job occurs *with* the article. This indicates quite clearly that “satan” is *not* a personal name. It is generic, and means “the adversary”. The word can be used of human beings (1 Sam 29:4; 2 Sam 19:23; 1 Kings 5:4; 1 Kings 11:14). All of these examples have “satan” without the article, but the referent is a human being, not a divine being, so we don’t have “Satan” here either.
In terms of statistics, the noun “satan” occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Bible, ten times *without* the article.
Of these ten, seven refer to human beings and two refer to the Angel of Yahweh for sure. The lone outlier is 1 Chron 21:1. This is the famous passage where “Satan” provokes David to take a census, but in the parallel passage, 2 Sam 24:1-25, it’s Yahweh provoking David to take the census. Due to this parallel, and due to the fact that “satan” here has no article, this is viewed by some as the single instance of an evil, cosmic figure called “satan” in the OT. It actually isn’t, though. If you’re familiar with my work on the two Yahwehs in the OT, the parallel (Yahweh-satan) is striking to you. The “satan” figure here is none other than the Angel of Yahweh — and so this instance without the article is akin to the two instances in the book of Numbers where “satan” was used of the Angel. This relieves the “is Yahweh Satan?” question and any notion of contradiction — since it would mean BOTH passages have Yahweh provoking David — one appears to be the invisible Yahweh; the other is the visible Yahweh.
There’s actually been a good recent article on why the satan in 1 Chron 21:1 is the Angel. The article is freely available online, so I’ve posted it here as a PDF. Consider this one fact that the article notes. It is in THIS passage that, after verse 1 mentions the “satan” provoking David, we read the Angel is there “with a sword drawn in his hand”. The Hebrew phrasing behind this occurs only three other times: Joshua 5:13 and Numbers 22:23, 31. ALL of these references are the Angel of Yahweh. and in one of them (Num. 22) he is the satan.
This would mean there are ZERO verses in the OT that have a personal name “satan”, and ZERO references to Satan as a cosmic evil entity as in the NT.
So where does this leave us?
Basically, “the satan” in Job is an officer of the divine council (sort of like a prosecutor). His job is to “run to and fro throughout the earth” to see who is and who is not obeying Yahweh. When he finds someone who isn’t and is therefore under Yahweh’s wrath, he “accuses” that person. This is what we see in Job — and it actually has a distinct New Testament flavor. (We also see it in Zechariah 3). But the point here is that this satan is not evil; he’s doing his job. Over time (specifically the idea of “being an adversary in the heavenly council” was applied intellectually to the enemy of God — the nachash (typically rendered “serpent”) in Eden, the one who asserted his own will against Yahweh’s designs. That entity eventually becomes labeled “Satan” and so the adversarial role gets personified and stuck to God’s great enemy (also called the Devil). This is a good example of how an idea in Israelite religion plays out and is applied in different ways during the progress of revelation.
- Paul Jouon and Takamitsu Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2003; 2005), vol. 2:505; Par 137.b. ↩
I went to read the article and I got as far as the end of the first page but it doesn’t let me go to the next pages (says “index.html” on a big blank page instead). Anyone else getting this error?
Btw, good article…hadn’t read on this before.
I redid the post and put in a link to a PDF of the article.
So the title mentioned is not a name and is not what we think of today post New Testament revelation. But is it not safe to say in hindsight, that this accuser of the breathern in Rev 12:10 is the same who shows up in the OT and we can see this from his job description ? It seems like similar description of the same agent.
I take the technical point on board about it not being a name, but it is possible to reference this as what we think of today as the devil ?
I mean the agent in Job is not “just doing his job” he takes it to sadistic levels of punishing a innocent man in his efforts to get him to curse God.
So is it the beginning of the evolution of this agent ? or is he totally unrelated in every way to what we know as the devil ?
I agree with Nobunaga, the lengths that he goes to punish an innocent man, and not to mention killing innocent people around him, is hard to reconcile with what we know of the nature of God. If this is true, does God still have prosecutors who go about making bad things happen, all at the command of God?
And one other thought, if the Angel of the Lord is identified with the satan or simply satan in the OT, at least in those passages mentioned, is it possible that the satan in Job is also the Angel of the Lord? If so, does that mean that the Angel of the Lord, who may be the visible Yahweh, is acting in the role of prosecutor instead of defender of the humanity?
Dr. Heiser, I have three questions, linguistic, theological, and historical.
On the linguistic side, your post asserts that the Hebrew definite article heh is never prefixed to a Hebrew name, quoting Joüon and Muraoka. I am writing this while at work, so I do not have my Hebrew text at hand and must think rathre quickly, but does not the OT contain instances where elohim in reference to the God if Israel is prefixed with the definite article? If my recollection is correct, how does that square with Heiser, Joüon and Muraoka?
On the theological side, if the Angel of Yahweh is the satan, does this not pose a theological problem of God tempting men to sin? If the Angel of Yahweh is thought of as being (a?) God the difficulty is obvious, neither is it diminished if the Angel of God is thought of as acting as God’s empowered agent.
On the historical side, if no OT verse presents “satan” as a personal name of a spiritual being opposed to God, how did such a concept develop between the testaments such that Jesus, the apostles and, I suppose, the Jewish sects and, in general, the Jewish people take it to be such?
Mike did not mean to say that the Angel of the Lord is Satan in the sense that he is the devil or acts like the devil. Rather, he meant to say that in that passage, he is *The Adversary* to bring about Yahweh’s punishment to completion or whatever else Yahweh wants to be done.
All these are good questions.
Mike, you should of done a series of post on Satan a long time ago 🙂 when I was doing extensive research on Satan and the parallels on Gen 3, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
See the last paragraph.
@blop2008: right – the Angel at times is sent to “oppose” someone.
@David Medici: The article on elohim = “the” elohim par excellence. Elohim came to be used as a circumlocution for Yahweh — but it is Yahweh that is the name of the God of Israel.
The Angel is not Satan; at times he is sent to “oppose” someone – to be their adversary. I think this was clear in the post.
See the last paragraph. A blog post isn’t the place to go into all the development of this (there is considerable bibliography on it). I just summarized the development in the last paragraph.
@Nobunaga: the satan’s job is to accuse; what happens to Job was a decision of God’s aimed at demonstrating (a) Job’s impeccable character, and (b) God was right in his estimation of Job’s impeccable character. These aims were not evil. There is no hint that God took any pleasure in this. The only real question that emerges for us is why God bothered or perhaps “why not demonstrate these things another way?” That is what is inscrutable.
MSH in your comment re “that is what is inscrutable – I think a good read is “Visions From Heaven – Visits to My Father’s Chamber” by Wendy Alec – wherein pains were taken to enlighten her as to her own situation at the time, and to Job’s in the bible. I recall one statement “a lot of my children need their theology corrected, and the scriptures illumined as to My purposes”
I’ll look it up – thanks!
The way I see the overall picture is like this:
God is in control.
God is just. Although Job did not deserve it perse, God remained just since God gave not only his possessions back but the double of it! Notice that animals do not undergo an afterlife. The reason God did not give twice more kids in the end was because the first 7 children still counted, since there is an afterlife for them.
God is merciful. We are sinners and do not merit anything really. It is because of God’s grace and mercy that we obtain what we have, including eternal life, which brings me to the other point.
God himself; the visible Yahweh, the Son of Man, the Christ who did not deserve to suffer for us and to pay our penalty still did it for us because he loved us first! Now *That* technically speaking is not fair on his side! But he made it fair (his justice) for us, because he wants to save us and keep us.
The hardknock idea againts God and the Bible due to Evil and suffering in the world is a lack of biblical perspectives and logic. Unfortunately, it leads the very same people to think God is not just responsible for disasters, but for the very evil and sin that arise from human or divine beings.
blop2008, I get what Mike is saying. I dont think that the Angel of Yahweh is the Devil. I was wondering if the Angel of Yahweh was a pre-incarnate Jesus since Mike writes, It actually isnt, though. If youre familiar with my work on the two Yahwehs in the OT, the parallel (Yahweh-satan) is striking to you. The satan figure here is none other than the Angel of Yahweh and so this instance without the article is akin to the two instances in the book of Numbers where satan was used of the Angel. This relieves the is Yahweh Satan? question and any notion of contradiction since it would mean BOTH passages have Yahweh provoking David one appears to be the invisible Yahweh; the other is the visible Yahweh. Based on this, if I understand what Mike has said about the two Yahwehs, it seems that a pre-incarnate Jesus is taking on role as prosecutor. It is not that I think that the role is evil, but I do find it a little disturbing.
But leaving that aside, lets just consider the role of prosecutor in the story of Job. How does one answer a six year old boy who wonders why a good God would give his OK for Jobs children and servants to be killed for the sake of a test? And it is really the others that are killedthe collateral damagethat Im struggling with here. Job comes through it all in the end and is even sort of a Christ-figure in that he suffers to prove that God is in righteous, or at least in control of everything. It is those other deaths that are so hard to explain to a kid especially while assuring him, in the same breath, that God is still really good. I guess I can say what Mike says, that it is inscrutable, but I dont think the six year old is going to get that either.
Yes i get it was under Gods providence, but the satan seemed to take it personal and his methods of doing his job were cruel. I’m Not putting this on God as i believe the satan had freedom to do what he wanted within the specified limits put on him by God, So was this part of the logic of equating the cosmic enemy with this satan ?
God is obviously beyond reproach but this character seemed to vindictive towards Job, i know it was his job but “calling it your job don’t make it right” to quote cool hand Luke lol.
Yeah, ok. I also have a bit of a hard time understanding Job 1 and 2 as portraying the Angel of the Lord as the adversary, since this “prosecutor” in Job doesn’t quite match up the adversary in Numbers and Chronicles. I’m still not sure if the Angel of the Lord would fit in Job 1 and 2.
And concerning the “six year old” wanting an explanation about this conundrum in Job’s story, Just re-read my previous post above. The wisdom of God may appear Folly to man and the wisdom of man may appear folly to God.
blop2008, fair enough on both counts. What I’ve taking away from this discussion is that the unseen supernatural world going on around us is more complex than we mere mortals can understand. And I guess that is part of the point of Job. There are some things we’re just not going to get, at least not while in this world.
Blop2000 and Dr. Heiser,
I did not say that Yahweh, the personal God of Israel, or the Angel of Yahweh, another personal agent, is the personal Satan (note the capital). I said, “…if the Angel of Yahweh is the satan…” (note the diminutive), where “the satan” is merely “the adversary/accuser”. My query with regard to the theological question was simply this: if the Angel of Yahweh was the accuser in Job then he was also the one who tempted/provoked Job to sin. This means that Yahweh’s agent, acting with Yahweh’s authority, tempts to sin, and this is, I believe, quite the theological problem. How would you resolve it?
As for the linguistic question, if you are going to assert that ha-elohim is “the elohim” par excellence — God — then how do you answer someone who will accept that assertion and parry with the assertion that ha-satan is “the satan” par excellence — Satan the Devil? In other words, your assertion has two problems: (1) you admit what you formerly denied, namely, that the definite article is never prefixed to a name, and (2) the “par excellence” argument cuts both ways (elohim par excellence = Elohim (God) and satan par excellence = Satan the Devil) and effectively nullifies your argument. How would you answer?
There’s no indication the Angel of the Lord is in Job 1-2.
@Nobunaga: Yes, I would agree that the adversary in Job 1-2 had freedom to act — but limited as the narrative describes.
So the translation “adversary” in 1 Chron 21:1 would have been better translation and would save a lot of confusion ? Why is this Hebrew word not translated in most Bibles ? Did the translators just see then name and go on auto pilot ?
the Net bible has good notes on this for those a bit confused like myself, nothing that Dr Heiser hasn’t already said though.
Please disregard my question previous question the translators took it as a name not a adjective. Sort of like what you’ve been saying all along :). Is there any truth that this satan could be a human enemy in 1 Chron 21:1 ?
I’m thinking it makes more sense to think of this adversary in 1 Chron 21:1 as a human enemy such as a hostile nation to Israel in which David took the census to evaluate his strength to see weather or not he could take them ? I know it sort of goes against the link you posted, but to me it makes more sense…. which is a good case to disregard it.
wow i dont know how you would get the the Angel of YHWH is the ‘adversary’ in Job..
perhaps that specific ‘adversary’ in Job could be the same one that YHWH used as a ‘lying spirit’ to kill that king…i forgot his name..
Dr. Heiser you know which one im talking about?.
@rode: That’s 1 Kings 22 – and the Angel of YHWH isn’t in that passage.
@Nobunaga: There’s no human enemy in the context, as there is on other occasions.
For clarity sake, how would one respond to anyone disagreeing with this reconciling of 2 Sam 24:1 with 1 Ch 21:1 by citing James 1:13. Is being incited (to do that which is a sin) different from being tempted?
yeah 1 kings 22…what i meant to state was that maybe the lying spirit in 1 kings 22 is the same character/person/spirit(satan) from Job…. (but im just thinking out loud)
Dr. Heiser, have you read the book “Christ and the Powers,” By Hendrik Berkhoff? I read it last week and was stunned by his use of the Phrase “Divine Council” in the book. It seems like something you would be interested in. It was written in 1953.
haven’t read it – is it recent copyright? Several books on the prophets and OT theology have appeared recently that have been open about using the phrase.
I know it has been reprinted a couple of times, but I am not positive that it has huge circulation, but he goes through all the letters of Paul and discusses what Paul meant by the “Principalities, Powers, Princes, Rulers.” He talks about how they are real, and were not just a manner of Paul’s speaking. His intention was to bring this to the attention of the modern Christian world and kind of tell them to wake up to this reality. At one point in the book he used the term “Divine Council” to relate to them. I was baffled. I am not sure about the copyright. Sorry. It is possible that the term was used because it was a translation. And I think the edition I have which was printed in the seventies was re-edited, so it is possible that it was added in then. It was really interesting how he ended the book saying something to the affect of how he had “opened up a new discussion” and there was much to be discussed and written on the topic.
I disagree on this interpretation of Job 1. While the Hebrew may be ambiguous by leaving out the definite article, the NT connects the dots…
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole worldhe was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9, ESV)
This verse firmly associates the serpent, devil and Satan as one and the same. The context of Job 1 does not have an angelic servant of God merely exercising Gods will. In context Satan challenges God, But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face. (Job 1:11, ESV) This really seems to infer he questioning God’s goodness and wants to demonstrate this defiance through Job. Hence the challenge… When viewed in context I have no problem seeing this accuser in Job 1 as the rebellious archangel he is associated with in Rev 12:9.
I’m not saying there is no conceptual connection, but the post was about the OLD testament, not the new. You also can’t just change rules of Hebrew grammar on the fly.
I think I know where you coming from on this, but even contained within the OT the satan is clearly evil. Seems like he’s been on Yahweh’s back about something for a while as well, most likely suing for the destruction of humanity. I don’t see how the view of a good satan, just doing his job as the cosmic policeman, can hold here. I’ve always read Yahweh’s asking him “where have you been?” to sound like how a father or boss would ask a delinquent son or an irresponsible employee to explain their movements. The whole episode smacks of “explain yourself”. I think we’re ok to presuppose he’s evil given that he goes on to do horrible unjust things to Job and his family. Although maybe Job had apostate kids, so the satan exploited a loop hole there. But even so the ulterior motive was to get him to sin, which is plain evil.
I certainly do not question your scholarship on the Hebrew. If your point is confined to a Hebrew bible perspective, sure he’s just an accusing angel (with an attitude). By reading your post one might get the idea that you are dismissing the traditional view that this is the Devil entirely. Are you?
Sorry I’m probably off the topic, but theologically, I can not help but view the OT in light of the NT when forming my opinion on the identity of this accuser from amongst the sons of God in Job. In light of NT, accusing is the devil’s job
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Revelation 12:10, ESV)
The conceptual connection is enough for me to accept the traditional reading.
I read the pdf file regarding Deuteronomy and also the one on the devine council. What is somewhat unclear is the statement that the Israel nation have only one God and that God is also the ultimate God over the other gods who were apparently created by this ultimate God Yahweh who are also referred to as the Lord Almighty.
In Exodus 29 verses 38 to 46 this Lord Almighty explained to Moses exactly how to do the daily offerings on the altar; verse 41- “The Lord said; This is a food offering to “me”, the Lord, and it’s odour pleases me.”
In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 11 and 12 He the Lord stated; 11 “Do you think I want all these sacrifices you keep offering to me? I have had more than enough of the sheep you burn as sacrifices and of the fat of your fine animals. I am tired of the blood of your bulls and sheep and goats”. 12 “Who asked you to bring me all this when you come to visit me? Who asked you to do all this tramping about in my temple?
In Jeremiah chapter 7 verse 22 the Lord stated; “I gave your ancestors no command about burnt offerings or any other kind of sacrifices when I brought them out of Egypt!
If this Nation were the chosen people of the Lord Almighty Yahweh, then why does the character change from Exodus to Isaiah and Jeremiah, it seems as if the latter one were not present in Exodus, or Moses received his orders from some else than Yahweh.
Is there an explanation for this? In all three these books he is called The Lord Almighty?
explain where you see the character changing.
In Exodus he states; “This is a food offering to me, the Lord, and it’s odour pleases me”.
Then in Isaiah and Jeremiah he asked “who asked you to bring me all this” and in Jeremiah he denies giving the command.
In Isaiah the perception is that he did not know about the command and ask “who asked you?”, then in Jeremiah it is stated that he did not give the command!
In Isaiah the indication is that he cannot remember who gave the command or even when; then in Jeremia he deny giving it, which leaves the perception that he could not have been the one giving the command in the first place, which in turn leads one to think that Yahweh can be a “title” and that the wearer could change! If he is omnipresent and omnicient then surely he would remember and know who gave the command and would have said somerhing to that effect?
Also the anger about the offerings and trampling about in Isaiah is not in line with the character in Exodus regarding the command and attetude in relation to it.
I’m really having a hard time following this — how it’s about the satan – ? Yahweh and other terms for the God of Israel are interchanged everywhere. Yahweh even refers to himself in both first and third person (which some take to be an indication of a godhead). But I can’t follow what you’re saying or asking here.
It’s not about the Satan. I agree with you about the terms, also on the godhead. What I am saying is; many people have been called king, because they wore a crown. I have used some quotes from the Bible to point out the possibility that the name Yahweh can be similar and that different entities could have worn the name, I am not an expert, it is only my opinion, the question is; is it possible? From an experts point of view, what do you think?
I don’t think so, but I’ll take another look at what you sent and re-process it.
Is “the satan” in each of these mentions the same “the satan” each time, or is it supposed to be just a position some angel takes up when it’s necessary?
I think in Job it would be the same adversary; in other passages, there is no telling whether there are connections back to Job (or to each other with respect to the various passages).
You definitely have a knack for destroying previously cherished notions, Mike. The result of virtually every article of yours that I read is that I am forced me to toss away or seriously reevaluate another piece of information which I always believed to be valid. It’s quite annoying, Mike.
Keep up the good work and I’ll continue to be annoyed (annoyed but always willing to reevaluate the basis for my previous conclusions).
someone once told me my task is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Maybe.
Just been looking through Genesis.
LORD God says “don’t eat from the tree of knowledge” Serpent says “did God say that ….. God knows that …. yours eyes would be opened”
God says take “two of every kind of bird” then the LORD god says “take seven of every kind of bird” a different request.
Is GOD therefore not the LORD God, and the LORD God is Yahweh, the Hebrew God?
Raising the question … “Who is Yahweh?”
Yahweh is the God of the OT spoken of in these texts. It appears to me you answered your own question in the line before the last line. Yahweh is the name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush (or at least the third person name / form of “I am”).
This makes the stunning revelation of Satan, provided by none other than Jesus, all the more riveting. We go from Zero revelation/info/insight about the chief of Devils, to an exposition of the entity, his intentions, his work, his calling-card, his successes and failures, and his future!
This is a related digression: but churches and academia do not take seriously enough what Jesus tells us about Satan [and demons and other assorted sordid beings]. We preach lightweight sermons about how God’s got “the whole world in His hands”, all safely under control, and virtually nothing about the “god-of-this-world” who has the kingdoms of this world and all their glory at his disposal, who actively blinds the minds of humans so that they may not see light, and under whose power “the whole world lies” according to John. The God we most often hear characterized on Sundays is more akin to the Allah of Islam….. whatever happens happens because “Allah wills it”…
What about the accuser/adversary in the New Testament? It seems to take a radical meaning. the adversary seems to be a tempter in the New Testament, while in the Old Testament an adversary/accuser? Why is this?
see my email.
Because in the OT, the devil still can still go heaven and convert angels to his side. In the NT, the devil and his followers are banished to Earth for a limited time to convert as many humans as possible before they are all thrown into the lake of fire.
I think the reason why the devil opposed God is because God loves humans more. Humans will judge angels and angels will serve humans in heaven. The devil cannot accept this. He belongs to the first created beings. Though angels have supernatural powers, they have to be humble and serve humans. Because God must be the only one.
Where in the OT does it say that the devil can go to heaven and convert angels? Give me a passage for that.
There is no passage in the OT about the devil being able to go to heaven and convert angels to the devil’s side. But, there is no passage in the OT that states that the devil cannot go to heaven and convert angels to the devil’s side. I just connected what I read in the NT with what the devil was doing the OT. I can’t see the writers of the OT books to have knowledge of the things told in the Book of Revelation. Is it possible for the devil to convert a third of the angels if their future as described in the Book of Revelation is known to them, before they went to the devil’s side? I can see the writers of the OT so respectful ( or wary ) of these divine beings ( be it good or evil ) that they cannot mention their names be it God, the devil or any angels. Are there any identified celestial beings in the OT with a personal name?
I admire your knowledge of the Bible. Of course every man will say that God is talking to him. I cannot accept another person’s interpretation of vague passages in the biblewhen I can look for passages that clearly say what God wants us to know. We do not go beyond what is written. Our interpretations of vague or unclear passages must not contradict or replace the actual words or statements of God. God is speaking to us clearly. But for those who do not belong to God, they do not understand.
Anyway, was the serpent in the Garden of Eden also the devil in one of his many forms? If not, is it possible that the serpent actually ate from the tree which opened his eyes and made him do what he did to Eve? Could have the serpent made Adam eat from the tree if the serpent approached him first? That is what I want to know.
I find it hard to believe that there is actually an angel of God that hurts innocent persons. Was it not the devil’s job to torment people both good and bad? Evil things happens in this world and beyond this world with God’s permission.
I can’t really repeat the content of the earlier post and the video about why the satan in Job isn’t a proper name (and hence not the Devil) in comments. (I posted those things for that reason). Arguments from silence are not evidence; one cannot form biblical theology from silence — it takes biblical data to form a biblical theology (by definition).
I think the devil in Job has not been thrown to Earth yet as what happened after the rebellion of a third of the angels in Revelation. And the trials of Job was done for the benefit of the angels to see what will happen if you remain loyal to God. It is the devil’s desire to convert as many angels and as many people to his side. Although God has to give the devil permission to tempt or test angels or humans.
There is definitely only one God. Although in the NT, he lets Jesus Christ rule for a thousand years as a reward for his sacrifice to bring back humans to God. After the thousand years, God will rule forever. Only one God walked with Moses, Abraham, Enoch, Cain and Adam. For people to say otherwise is a triumph of the devil.
God acts like he does not know something because he wants the humans to tell him the truth. The God in the OT is a God for the early believers. He shows human characteristics so humans will be able to interact with him properly. Humans possess the knowledge of good and evil just like the angels. But God loves the humans more.
Satan has to get God’s permission first before he can tempt or test humans. When people get hurt or die, it is part of God’s plan. What we have to do is pray for God’s mercy that he will open our eyes and soften our hearts so we will not be given to the devil to test or tempt. God gives us everything and he can take away everything
the satan in Job isn’t the devil (that link is never made in either testament). The satan in Job is a divine “adversary” who is doing his job (under God’s authority) but who gets a bit uppity with God by challenging him about Job.
The link might not be there on the basis of them not sharing proper noun status (I know nothing of Hebrew grammar, just going off my understanding of your argument), but surely there’s enough thematic connection in the OT to conclude they’re one and the same. The author of Job calls him the accuser, the NT zeroes in on him and labels him Accuser…the writers feeling free to personify the term because they believed there was only one and therefore no risk of ambiguity (“oh that accuser from way back, yeah he’s the one and only Accuser”) Thoughts?
The Mystery of Iniquity?Hell, which is commonly described as fire is prepared for the devil and his angels. —>its kinda like strange Hell is made for him and his motley band, because he seems to work well with fire and live there-in?
—>He differs from the other Cherubim it appears in that he can prance about. Stands either beneath or above-beneath covering the alter and God himself.
—>Perfect spot to accuse? Possibly but its just not clear. Though if I were to advise a king I would probably pick that spot so I could be like “Hey, I accuse the brethren of debauchery, heathenism and such and such”
Im not going to take up too much time here so I will just put that for now.
Salutations and GodSpeed Dr. Heiser.
My post got messed up here, I had quotations from Ezekiel’s vision having to do with the fiery stones about the wheels and the cherubim, and Ezekiel’s mention in his allegorical poem to the King of Tyre walking on fiery stones.
In Isaiah the Seraphim pick up hot fire from beneath God on an alter thing(so i presume), it described as cleansing fire as the angel puts it on his tongue. Which is kinda like Hell. Like when Jesus says he will try such and such by fire.
The point is that its odd that Hell is made for the Devil since if he is the one being described in little chunks throughout the bible (albeit allegorically) than he is the same one that walked among the fire around or beneath God’s throne. You can speculate where he was around the throne by where the other cherubim are in contrast, and the fact that they only move as commanded.
As far as Satan (adversary) in the Old Testament, He is rebuked on some occasions which denotes a level of disrespect, sorta like “away with you” which is odd if he is just doing his job. But then again, we know very little of any of the Angels Sons of God and there actual place in Heaven.
I salut all of you. As a child without any understanding of how our world operates, I was led to always insist at all cost that there is always a deity that loves human beings especially if we do his will. Now having taken time to unlearn all those acquired knowledge from these ancient text that human call the word of God, I realize that this kind of tradition (belief in an unknown God) is only for little children or fearful adults whose minds are yet to be emancipated from this ancient jokes. I understand that it is difficult for one to get himself fully liberated from this mind distorting book since we all grew up into the tradition. Even when we have clearly understood that nothing in this book is valid, we still struggle to search for a way to validate or defend it on and on. This custom has taken a firm grip of us especially those that earn their living from it. We find it difficult and unacceptable to reason out straight to the point that the very angry and wicked deity (God) of the Isrealite served no useful purpose in the life of the universe since itself is a hand work of human being.
I can’t say this comment makes any sense, but approved it anyway.
Sir I believe we are dealing with a dialect from the “pre-eng comp I era”,
I will take a brief moment (couple of minutes) and decipher this for you
“I salut all of you. As a child without any understanding of how our world operates”
He praises those who do not understand how the world operates.
“Now having taken time to unlearn all those acquired knowledge from these ancient text that human call the word of God”
He works with ancient biblical text, learning the information there-in, then unlearns it.
“We find it difficult and unacceptable to reason out straight to the point that the very angry and wicked deity (God) of the Isrealite served no useful purpose in the life of the universe since itself is a hand work of human being”.
He found Gnosticism to his liking, but holds the belief that the universe was created by a Homo Sapien (Single?).
Hope that helps Sir,
Good Day to you.
THIS STUFF SEEMS VERY CONFUSING SO MANY SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
It’s not confusing if you just go with the text. That’s why I call this blog the “Naked” Bible.
I have a quick question, tangentially related to the above…
Why is the figure addressed in Ezekiel 28:13-14 — the cherub who was in Eden — said to be the nachash? Why not simply the cherub of Genesis 3:24?
(Apologies if you’ve already addressed this — I did Google for it, but found nothing relevant.)
First, the word nachash does not appear in Ezek 28. The connection is conceptual and related to certain other items the two chapters share. In light of that connection, the cherub of Gen 3:24 is ruled out as a candidate because the backdrop for both chapters is the rebellion of a supernatural being. The cherub of Gen 3:24 wasn’t a rebel.
Thanks for your reply.
Yes, this was the reason for my question: I was unsure why the connection was made — I wondered whether it was chiefly because the nachash of Genesis 3 and the cherub of Ezekiel 28 are notable supernatural beings and enemies of YHWH. (And, of course, were both in Eden.)
These being the presence in Eden, the rebellion and…?
At the time of his being posted to guard the tree, he wasn’t. Can we be 100% certain that he didn’t subsequently rebel? Certain questions arise in my mind whenever the nachash is linked with the figure in Ezekiel 28. According to Ezekiel 28:13-14, we’re looking for a figure who (i) was in Eden, who (ii) is a “guardian cherub”, and who (iii) was “placed”/”set”/”appointed” (נָתַן) by God.
1. Certainly the nachash was in Eden but were the nachash himself a cherub, why not label him as such? Was he appointed to guard anything?
2. The only cherub in Eden that we’re told about is the one in Genesis 3:24.
3. We’re told that his role is to “guard” (although the word is שָׁמַר rather than סָכַך).
4. The text says that God placed him there.
Obviously I’m just an amateur, am going against many centuries of church teaching, and admittedly feel a twinge of lèse majesté even questioning the reply of a scholar, but might it be possible that the guardian Cherub in Eden went bad?
You can only have the cherub at the tree as a rebel if you assume it (i.e., make that up). I don’t make up my theology, so I don’t take such a view.
…And likewise you can only have the nachash as the cherub if you assume that the nachash was himself a cherub. And if that were the case, then why not use the word “cherub” to describe him in Genesis? God mentions a cherub in the same passage, and if indeed God is saying in Ezekiel that the nachash is a cherub, then why not simply mention that he’s a cherub in Genesis, too?
Both positions involve assumptions, since the text does not explicitly tell us that the nachash of Genesis is the cherub of Ezekiel, nor does it explcitly tell us that the cherub rebelled — unless, of course, the Ezekiel account itself constitutes the disclosure of this rebellion (which would deal with your point about making things up). It’s a question of which assumption is more likely, based on the evidence we have in the text.
My position isn’t an assumption. It’s based on comparison and correlation of Isa 14, Ezek 28, and Gen 3 and (importantly) the solid evidence for a divine (not human) rebel behind the content of Isa 14 and Ezek 28. Your cherub villain at the tree after the fall and the expulsion of Adam and Eve lacks such correlations and is speculative.
The non-human nature of the figure “behind” the King of Babylon and the figure “behind” the Prince of Tyre isn’t in dispute — indeed in the passage we’re discussing, the latter is referred to plainly as a cherub, which is solid evidence of his non-human nature. The nachash-as-cherub and the cherub-as-cherub positions agree on this. Rather, it’s the correlations you mention which are the issue here.
Could you give me a brief summary of these correlations, for comparison? (…Just bullet-points, like the list in my second comment above?)
You’ll have to wait for Unseen Realm to ship. It’s all in there and in the companion website for the book, which will go live after the book ships. Sorry – publisher issue.
No; they aren’t the same beings. Nachash is actually never called satan (“adversary”) in the OT. That label gets assigned to the nachash later (2nd temple period, NT) because he was an “opposer” to God. This is discussed in my book The Unseen Realm.
Thanks, still currently working through your book. I’ll be sure to check it out now. God bless.
There’s no textual evidence that Luke is thinking of 1 Chron 21:1. That is, there’s nothing in the Greek of that verse that provides some secure link to the LXX of 1 Chron 21:1.
The reasons for the census are also quite different. In the OT, census-taking is tied to tallying soldiers — that is, it’s about assessing military might — trusting in one’s own army rather than the Lord. That isn’t the circumstance of Luke’s census reference.
You are referring (I presume) to helel ben shachar in Isa 14 — a passage that, in my view, does speak of a divine rebellion and align with Gen 3. But that figure is never called satan in the Hebrew Bible.
It’s basically just an issue of what term is used when.
You are referring (I presume) to helel ben shachar in Isa 14 — a passage that, in my view, does speak of a divine rebellion and align with Gen 3. But that figure is never called satan in the Hebrew Bible.
It’s basically just an issue of what term is used when.
who knew you would be referencing 45th President of The United States in this Post LOL
We are having a discussion as to whether Satan and Yeshua were brothers since they are both Sons of God and of the Elohim Family
Do you have a teaching on this anywhere
Jesus, as Yahweh incarnate, was ontologically unique. Asking whether Satan and Jesus were brothers is the same as asking whether Satan and Yahweh are brothers. They aren’t.
Working steadily through Unseen Realm and hugely enjoying it so far! A quick question regarding the serpent. I think the case is solid (let alone self-evident as you continue in scripture) that the serpent is a divine being. But the very first line of Genesis 3 makes the mistake understandable at least: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field that the Lord had made”. (Some translations put “any other” but looking at the interlinear doesn’t suggest the insertion of “other” is warranted.)
Either way, it does sound like the serpent is being compared to other land animals, and therefore belongs in their category. What is your opinion on this verse? Does “hay-yat” simply mean “living creature”? And “mik-kol” could possibly mean “than all” instead of “than any”? In other words, could a clearer translation be “now the serpent was more crafty than all of the living creatures of the land”? This makes the difference between them more distinct. But I know nothing of Hebrew so perhaps that’s rubbish!
My take on this is in the book (page 91):
The nachash was cursed to crawl on its belly, imagery that conveyed being cast down (Ezek 28:8, 17; Isa 14:11–12, 15) to the ground. In Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, we saw the villain cast down to the ʾerets, a term that refers literally to the dirt and metaphorically to the underworld (Ezek 28:17; Isa 14:9, 11–12, 15). The curse also had him “eating dirt,” clearly a metaphorical reference, since snakes don’t really eat dirt as food for nutrition. It isn’t part of the “natural snake diet.” The point being made by the curse is that the nachash, who wanted to be “most high,” will be “most low” instead—cast away from God and the council to earth, and even under the earth. In the underworld, the nachash is even lower than the beasts of the field. He is hidden from view and from life in God’s world. His domain is death.
Dr. Heiser, I fully understand that “satan” in Job is an occupation but when we read the text there seems to be vexing disdain this spirit has for Job that makes it hard to believe than an agent of Yahweh would have for a human, especially one “upright”. What right standing being would want to execute these actions on another. To me it reflects a similar thought pattern of Satan’s when he tempted Jesus, that is to attack or call into question what is rightfully theirs from God. For me that lends some consideration that this being could be both “a satan” and “The Satan” simultaneously. I always appreciate your insight and grateful for your take on this.
To add to what Jason said, Jesus reveals to Peter that the adversary has “demanded to have [all of] you that he might sift you like wheat.” This seems to be a parallel to what took place with Job.
I also wanted to quickly add that I always connected Peter’s statement in Peter 5:8 “walketh about” with the “To and Fro” in Job. A strained connection perhaps but I want to learn and always welcome additional insight.
IF Satan was a cosmic evil entity, it would be logical that he would be mentioned as such in the OT. So either he evolved during the time of Christ or New Testament diverged from the original idea of Satan.
Hi Mike, how can the satan not be evil when he seeks an injunction against Job, even after God declares him righteous, and then proceeds to destroy his property and murder his children? Seems a bit overzealous. Also, it seems that you’d have to maintain this “simply doing his job” satan as being distinct from the nachash, because of the anachronism that ensues with him evil in eden but not evil later in job. Are you saying they’re two separate characters? Doesn’t feel right in light of the nachash’s motives in eden, and later on in Revelation’s “the accuser of our brothers, who accused them day and night before our God…”.
None are in greater danger from the influence of evil spirits than those who, notwithstanding the direct and ample testimony of the Scriptures, deny the existence and agency of the devil and his angels. So long as we are ignorant of their wiles, they have almost inconceivable advantage; many give heed to their suggestions while they suppose themselves to be following the dictates of their own wisdom. This is why, as we approach the close of time, when Satan is to work with greatest power to deceive and destroy, he spreads everywhere the belief that he does not exist. It is his policy to conceal himself and his manner of working.
There is nothing that the great deceiver fears so much as that we shall become acquainted with his devices. The better to disguise his real character and purposes, he has caused himself to be so represented as to excite no stronger emotion than ridicule or contempt. He is well pleased to be painted as a ludicrous or loathsome object, misshapen, half animal and half human. He is pleased to hear his name used in sport and mockery by those who think themselves intelligent and well informed.
It is because he has masked himself with consummate skill that the question is so widely asked: “Does such a being really exist?” It is an evidence of his success that theories giving the lie to the plainest testimony of the Scriptures are so generally received in the religious world. And it is because Satan can most readily control the minds of those who are unconscious of his influence, that the word of God gives us so many examples of his malignant work, unveiling before us his secret forces, and thus placing us on our guard against his assaults.
Michael Heiser….Old Testament history presents occasional mention of Satan and his angels s existence and agency; but it was during the time when Christ was upon the earth that evil spirits manifested their power in the most striking manner. Christ had come to enter
upon the plan devised for man’s redemption, and Satan determined to assert his right to control the world. He had succeeded in establishing idolatry in every part of the earth except the land of Palestine. To the only land that had not fully yielded to the tempter’s sway, Christ came to shed upon the people the light of heaven. Here two rival powers claimed supremacy. Jesus was stretching out His arms of love, inviting all who would to find pardon and peace in Him. The hosts of darkness saw that they did not possess unlimited control, and they understood that if Christ’s mission should be successful, their rule was soon to end. Satan raged like a chained lion and defiantly exhibited his power over the bodies as well as the souls of men.
The fact that men have been possessed with demons, is clearly stated in the New Testament. The persons thus afflicted were not merely suffering with disease from natural causes. Christ had perfect understanding of that with which He was dealing, and He recognized the direct presence and agency of evil spirits.
A striking example of their number, power, and malignity, and also of the power and mercy of Christ, is given in the Scripture account of the healing of the demoniacs at Gadara. Those wretched maniacs, spurning all restraint, writhing, foaming, raging, were filling the air with their cries, doing violence to themselves, and endangering all who should approach them. Their bleeding and disfigured bodies and distracted minds presented a spectacle well pleasing to the prince of darkness. One of the demons controlling the sufferers declared: “My name is Legion: for we are many.” Mark 5:9. In the Roman army a legion consisted of from three to five thousand men. Satan’s hosts also are marshaled in companies, and the single company to which these demons belonged numbered no less than a legion.
At the command of Jesus the evil spirits departed from their victims, leaving them calmly sitting at the Saviour’s feet, subdued, intelligent, and gentle
this battle between Satan and God is seen albeit in less dramatic events in old testament compared to New testament
We cannot examine a few texts and ignore the totality of scripture before us…..we should use plain texts so as to explain difficult texts…start with simple ones……the battle on earth which Job faces with Satan is not new to the reader by now
Revelation 12:7-17King James Version (KJV)
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
John makes the reader be aware of the war in heaven where Lucifer first had rebellion before being cast out…..John wants you to know that that old serpent(GENESIS 3) and also the Devil and Satan or the Dragon are one thing….John want this readers to know that what will happen to this fallen angel…..Revelation 20
20 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
John wants the readers never to doubt of this individual ….Satan…never to pretend he does not exist
When the reader sees Herod killing all the children below 2 years …the reader sees the unseen hand of Satan working on the kings s heart the same way the text says then ‘SATAN ENTERED JUDAS S HEART”.He sees Pharaoh kill all male children at the time when Moses was born and sees the same unseen hand
Satan can gain full control of our neurology and exhibit in wretched maniacs, spurning all restraint, writhing, foaming, raging, filling the air with their cries, doing violence to themselves …..But he can also gain control of men in suits,with clear speech and clear logical arguments ,arguments dressed with a veneer of scholarly tones…yet deceived ..Just the same way he used a serpent as his medium in the garden of Eden to deceive Eve (Eve should have been surprised to hear the snake speaking ,for the serpent was not given to power of speech)…..Satan is still the master of disguise …the worst conclusions i have ever seen is to attribute to the ANGEL of the Lord (Christ) as if He is the adversary……God knows very well when we have done good exegesis…..and He knows when Eisegesis has been done….